For most of us, the dentist is one of the last people we want to hang out with. You’re not alone, though. Fear of the dentist is so common that it’s thought that between 13 and 24% of people have it.
Dental anxiety, which is fear or stress when going to the dentist, to a dental phobia. The more severe fear causes people to completely put off or avoid going to the dentist until the pain is worse than the fear.
Some different things can cause dental anxiety or phobia, and each person will have other symptoms. Dealing with these symptoms is essential because missing your dental appointment can seriously affect your oral and overall health.
As dentists, the relationships we build with our patients are just as meaningful as our technical skills. These relationships significantly impact our ability to make our patients feel safe and comfortable and to change their lives.
We’ve put together a list of the most common reasons people are afraid of the dentist and ways to get over them so you can worry less and keep your teeth in good shape.
Symptoms And Warning Signs Of Dental Anxiety
Even though everyone’s dental anxiety or phobia can look different, some of the most common things people do when they are afraid of the dentist are:
- Palpitations or a faster heartbeat
- Having low blood pressure or passing out
- Angry, sad, or having panic attacks
- Withdrawing or using humor or anger to hide their anxiety
- Missing dental appointments over and over
Why Is It Essential To Get Over Your Fear Of The Dentist?
As was already said, people with dental phobia often don’t go to the dentist. The bad thing about this is that it can lead to more health problems, which could be more stressful, painful, and expensive than the first visit.
When people don’t go to the dentist, their oral health often worsens, making them feel more afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed. This makes them avoid the dentist even more than before. As the dental disease worsens, you are more likely to need emergency dental care or more complicated care.
Going to the dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning can prevent dental diseases more effectively and find problems early when they are more accessible and less invasive to treat. This is one of the most important things you can do to take care of your teeth.
Most dental problems are caused by how people live so they can be avoided. This is also why it’s essential to see your dentist regularly to learn how to take better care of your teeth and get the best dental advice from the experts!
Why Are People Afraid Of The Dentist And How To Get Over It?
Before overcoming your fear of a dentist, you need to figure out why you are afraid. Here are the main reasons why people fear going to the dentist and what they can do about it:
1. Pain phobia
This common fear can come from a painful dental experience or hearing about other people’s painful experiences.
Understandably, no one wants to feel pain, so it’s essential to find a dentist who understands your fear and takes the time and care to make you as pleasant as possible. It’s also important to remember that modern dentistry has come a long way, with treatments that cause almost no pain. When you get an anesthetic shot, it quickly numbs your mouth so that you only feel a little pressure or touch from the dental tools.
When your body tenses up, it makes you more sensitive to pain. Breathing exercises and meditation are great ways to relax your body.
2. A Fear Of Needles Or Shots
People also often fear needles, especially when they have to be put in the mouth. Some people are scared of the injection itself, while others are scared of just the thought of the needle.
If the needle hurts a little, your dentist can numb your gums with a gel before giving you the shot. It’s also nice to know that needles used for anesthesia are now much thinner than they used to be.
Distracting oneself during treatment is another good way to take your mind off the needle, so please bring your headphones so you can listen to your favorite music or podcasts.
3. A Fear Of The Side Effects Of Anesthesia
Some patients worry about the possible side effects that can happen when they get anesthesia. This could include getting dizzy, feeling sick, or having your mouth and lips go numb. These side effects go away quickly, but not knowing what to expect can make patients worry.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about this fear. They can help by explaining how you might feel at different times after the anesthetic.
4. Not Wanting To Feel Helpless Or Out Of Control
Some patients feel vulnerable because they have to stay still in the dental chair while the dentist works on them, and they can’t see exactly what’s happening. This feeling of not being in control can be caused by head or neck injuries or a history of traumatic events like domestic violence.
5. Fear Of Being Ashamed
Some individuals may be self-conscious about how their teeth look or their breath smells, especially when the dental surgeon or oral health therapist is very close. They might worry that the dentist will think less of them for not caring for their teeth.
Choosing a dental professional who makes you feel safe, comfortable, and understanding is crucial. Also, remember that dental cleanings work in people’s mouths every day, so they’ve seen and smelled everything there is to see and smell! Your dentist is also there to teach you how to care for your teeth when you’re not there. You can visit your dentist nearby to overcome your dental anxiety.
The “benzodiazepine” family is where most dental-related drugs that treat anxiety are found. Medications like Valium, Halcion, Xanax, and Ativan. These drugs make people less anxious by binding to “fear” receptors in the brain and turning down their activity.
Your dentist may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs like Valium (diazepam) that you can take an hour before your appointment. Your dentist may also suggest conscious sedation, like nitrous oxide (also called “laughing gas”), to help calm your nerves.
People who fear the dentist feel anxious when they think about or go to the dentist. Dentophobia can be caused by bad things that happened in the past, problems in the family, or a feeling of being out of control. You can get over this disorder with help from exposure therapy, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques.